Rachel Castellano wrote the piece below about her experiences with One Voice for Laos and her reasons for being involved with One Voice for Laos. Rachel, the author of this heart-warming piece, is pictured here with Wanalee, an orphan from Laos......
I joined One Voice for Laos with the intention of doing what I could to help
children across the world. I had no idea I would actually travel there, and experience
something that would truly change my life.
What started out as a fun project with
my friends, turned into a huge part of my life that I'm incredibly passionate about.
It's hard to contemplate the amount of things I've learned from the
experiences I've had with One Voice for Laos. Not only was I able to travel to Asia
and immerse myself in an unfamiliar culture while making long-lasting connections
with the most amazing children I've ever met, I gained confidence and experience in
organizing and carrying out fundraisers back at home.
The other teenagers who I traveled with would agree that it was just as eye
opening to see the differences between the kids at the Deak Kum Pa orphanage and
us, as it was to see the similarities. They loved sports and hanging out with their
friends. I had conversations with them that could have easily been with an American
teenager. The part of them I will remember forever was how happy they were. They
smiled and laughed the same amount, if not more than American kids who have
their own room, good food, clean clothes, and the latest electronics.
I'm proud to say that I helped raise money for these children who I would say
I look up. By our fundraising efforts, they were able to obtain healthier and more
nutritious food. This project showed me that a small group of concerned citizens is
enough to make a difference. This gave me hope that although there is a lot of evil
and unfairness in the world, there are a lot of wonderful, capable people out there to
fix it. They just have to find the desire and will power to do so.